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In Vietnam we often say "when you are very hungry, rice is also delicious to you".

When you are full, food doesn't taste good to you.

But when you are hungry, even the most boring food tastes good to you.

In Vietnam, rice on its own is the most boring food to eat.

In Western country, what kind of food is the most boring to eat but it tastes good when you are hungry?

I assume bread on its own is the most boring food to eat in the West.

Do you have an expression saying "when you are very hungry, bread is also delicious to you" or similar one?

I am looking for a similar common expression in English. An expression that most native English speakers often say

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  • Just FYI in English, you would translate the Vietnamese saying as "When you're really hungry, even rice tastes good!" (rather than ".. is also ..")
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 7 at 21:43
  • Please answer this question: Are you looking for a saying, aphorism or proverb? Or a way to express the idea? [it's to you, not for you and "in Western countries"].
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 7 at 23:02
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    @Lambie, I always ask for common similar expression in English. See my update
    – Tom
    Commented Jun 8 at 6:29
  • Sorry, but you didn't answer my question. An expression can be an idiom. The answers you have received are proverbs, sayings and aphorisms. Doesn't the answer need to mention some boring food that satisfies you when are very hungry?
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 8 at 13:42
  • Does it need to specifically mention food? In English, we have a more maritime idiom that one in need is not choosy: any port in a storm. Commented Jun 8 at 15:53

9 Answers 9

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An English saying is "Hunger is the best sauce". A sauce is added to food, especially boring food, to make it taste better, so the saying means that when you are hungry all food, even boring food, tastes better.

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  • This has absolutely nothing to do with the question. :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 22 at 23:08
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As @Nuclear Hoagie pointed out, a similar English idiom is beggars can't be choosers, meaning that if you're in desperate need of something, you should be satisfied with what you get, even if it's not what you prefer.

A less food-related one is any port in a storm, meaning that a person in a bad situation (“a storm”) will take any solution even if it's less than ideal.

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It's a verse:

Proverbs 27:7 (NKJV)

One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry, everything bitter is sweet.

What does Proverbs 27:7 mean?

“The hungry” are willing to eat almost anything – “even what is bitter.” And, maybe even more amazing, “what is bitter tastes sweet” to them. We can all appreciate the opportunity to have all we want of something we like. But, it’s also pretty meaningful to be in a place where we can just be happy with what we have – whether little or lots, bitter or sweet!

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    Apt as it may be, this is hardly a well-known phrase! Commented Jun 6 at 7:55
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    @KateBunting go to church more often... :D
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jun 6 at 18:00
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    Famous in our place? It is not a phrase. It is a quote (proverb) from the Bible and does not answer the question at all. Not something people go round saying, as Kate points out.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 7 at 14:49
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    @JamesMathai - Yes, I know that all those common idioms come from the King James Bible. I only said that the verse you quoted is not a well-known proverb in the UK. (Where is 'your place', by the way?) Commented Jun 7 at 15:46
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    @JamesMathai It doesn't matter to the OP whether I've heard it. It's a legitimate answer whether it's common, rare, or made up on the spot. Moreover even if we did need to know how common it is, arguing about it is unlikely to help. Commented Jun 7 at 22:50
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"I'm so hungry I could eat a horse" could qualify as a similar expression. The main implication of this phrase is about the quantity you could eat, but there is also some connotation of poor quality, as horsemeat isn't commonly served and tends to have a poor reputation in most English-speaking countries. The implication is that the speaker is so hungry, they'd eat a lot of something that they would never eat otherwise. The phrase isn't used generally to describe the effect of hunger on the palate, but is used more directly as a means of expressing how hungry someone is.

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    "but there is also some connotation of poor quality". I certainly have never implied that when saying it. Quantity has been the only factor.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jun 6 at 18:02
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    @RonJohn But then why a horse, specifically? You wouldn't say "I could eat a cow". You might say "I could eat a whole cow", but that fixes the focus firmly on quantity. Saying you could eat a horse is particularly impactful because a horse is not something one would normally eat - perhaps not referring to quality directly, but at the very least that it's something not often thought of as food. Commented Jun 6 at 18:09
  • @RonJohn Some additional tidbits on the historical usage of the phrase here (english.stackexchange.com/questions/380851/…), which does suggest the unpalatability of horse makes it a more emphatic phrase than to say one could eat some other large (but commonly eaten) animal. Commented Jun 6 at 19:24
  • I didn't say you were wrong, I explicitly said that I have never implied that (because it never occurred to me). Repeating the h sound -- so hungry, I could eat a horse -- is what I've always attributed the expression to, and why eating a cow isn't as popular.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jun 7 at 0:52
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    @RonJohn Phillip K. Dick was so poor at one point in his career as a science fiction author that he bought pet-grade horsemeat from his butcher and according to him, it is not good. I agree with you that the quantity is probably the primary driver of this idiom, but I don't think we can discount quality as an aspect of it. Commented Jun 7 at 15:36
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In Persian (Farsi), we say "آدم گرسنه سنگ را هم می خورد.".

This translates to "A hungry person will even eat stones".

It's usually taught to children who are picky eaters. You can use Google Translate to read more here.

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    Hi Mohammadreza, welcome to the site! This is a very interesting note about Farsi, but this website is for folks learning English, so we're interested in idioms used in English.
    – AAM111
    Commented Jun 7 at 18:25
  • @AAM111 I saw Vietnam and misunderstood the question!! Should I delete my answer? Commented Jun 7 at 19:03
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    I would leave this answer here. I enjoy using "loan idioms" from other cultures from time to time. Even if this is not a commonly-used English phrase, the translation certainly could be used in English and be readily understood.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 7 at 19:59
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    Agree with J.R. Yeah, it's not directly on topic, but I was pleased to learn it and even in translation it may be helpful to the OP. Commented Jun 7 at 22:54
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In Dutch we say "honger maakt rauwe bonen zoet" which translates to "Hunger makes raw beans taste sweet"

I've never really had raw beans, but I guess they're not pleasant!

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In German we have the proverb: "In der Not frisst der Teufel Fliegen" (in times of need, the devil will eat flies).

This is used metaphorically though and not with respect to real food, or at least not with respect to literally eating flies. But I thought it's worth mentioning since it is very idiomatic, and the metaphor is quite similar to your Vietnamese saying, just taken a notch further (not only would you enjoy something rather bland when hungry, you would even eat something disgusting when desperate).

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In the Hindi language, there's this saying

"भूखे को दाना भी सोना।" (Bhookhe ko dana bhi sona.)

This translates to "For the hungry, even grains are like gold."

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  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Jun 9 at 20:47
  • When one is hungry, the few grains he has would be as valuable as gold. It agrees with the OP's Vietnamese saying that one can't be choosy when he is too hungry. (gold is a metaphor for valuable thing ) Commented Jun 10 at 11:14
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The question: When you are very hungry, bread is also delicious to you or similar one?

When you are very hungry, most any food tastes delicious to you. OR according to the OP, and corrected by me:

When you are very hungry, bread is also delicious to you.

food in English can taste good, taste delicious, satisfy you, taste awful, horrible, etc. Some foods are good for you. Other foods are not good for you (greasy food).

BUT NOT: is delicious for you.

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    This does not answer the question at all. Commented Jun 6 at 20:11
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Is that so? I thought it did rather well. I did not interpret this as a saying, proverb or aphorism. Indeed, an expression is just a way to express things.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 7 at 23:04

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